What to do when you have a never-ending to-do list
You’re busy. Constantly, going going going. Yeah, me too. You have a never-ending to-do list. This summer has been a culmination of traveling, working too hard, and zipping around! At one point, when I was a particularly jetlagged, a little tired, and feeling like I was sinking, my friend said to me (in a totally gentle and non-judgy way), “hey, you look beat, are you doing okay?” It was so innocent and so observant.
There are seasons of going at full speed that never seems to let up. But we have to remind ourselves that we are in control of how much pressure we’re putting on ourselves. How hard are you pressing on the pedal? More importantly, WHY are we pressing on the pedal as hard as we are?
Look up from reading this and take a big, deep breath! We have the power to choose the speed at which we work. You can choose for it to be a season of hustle, a season of hustle, or a season of #hustewithease. Let’s not disillusion ourselves to believe that we don’t have control over our own work.
One of the reasons you probably don’t slow down is because you feel as though people around you are constantly working, like they’re going to beat you, lap you in the race of business ownership. You look at your social media, your Facebook groups, your colleagues emails and get overwhelmed by how much you’re not doing!
Instead of looking around at everybody else, here’s what I do when I get overwhelmed:
One of the core tenants of being a Heart Centered Business Owner (I describe that in more depth here) is that I believe business owners should take active rest and time for reflection.
You know when you’re in the shower, on a walk, driving in silence, you seem to have the best ideas pop up? It’s because your brain has a chance to wander, do its thing (this is a scientific term, obviously), and have time to think about things without being forced. It’s the reason why it’s hard to focus on one thing if you have a ton of things pulling for your attention.
By giving yourself time to breathe, you’re actually helping your business, not hurting it. Doing things strategically and mindfully is more effective than it would be to put random things on your to-do list haphazardly as they come to mind. Without clear vision and focus, no matter what you do, it really doesn’t help you to progress.
Have a never-ending to-do list? Here are five ways to institute active rest time and reflection into your business hours to ensure that you are able to be the most effective version of yourself.
Schedule time to reflect
Every other week on Fridays, I have time set aside to do some CEO level thinking. It’s a time I dedicate to being strategic in my business, time to think about the bigger picture and where we’re headed. It’s time for me to evaluate my priorities and sometimes saying “no” (gasp!) to projects, potential clients, or collaborations. It’s space I create so that when my days feel packed to the brim, I know I’ll have time to think about the important things that make up my business.
You can build this into your business as an hour a week, a few hours every other week or just once a month but setting it as a recurring item on your calendar that’s a non-negotiable is what makes it possible.
Go away – retreat/away from desk
A big tip I’d give you to actually get this work done is to get out from behind your desk. Remove yourself from your workspace and go sit on your porch, sit at your couch, go to a coffee shop, go on a solo lunch date with a notebook in hand! There’s something special about having the change of scenery – probably that you can’t actually do work or that you’re not forced to look at your email.
Another recommendation I have is to go on a solo or business retreat to concentrate solely on your business. You can rent an Airbnb for a weekend, go to a winery, or check yourself into a hotel with a nice restaurant so you can work on your business. Alternatively, you can go to a business retreat with a small group of creatives (that you organize or that’s organized by somebody who’s facilitating it); at this retreat, you’d have opportunities to mastermind, talk shop and work while being relaxed and casual.
If you’re interested in attending a mastermind style retreat for a small group of creative women, click here and let us know!
Adding quiet journaling time to your daily routine is another way to reflect in a short chunk of time. Quieting your brain and thinking about what’s important to you each day is a beautiful way to end or begin your day!
Go for a walk solo
Going outside in nature is one of the most common way of clearing your head. Go outside, walk your dog or go for a hike. Making time to move your body is a quick way to get out of work task management and cultivating time for restorative, creative thinking. A fun way of “not thinking about work” is to try to solve a puzzle or a problem that’s unrelated to your work. You’ll find that you get focused on the project or your mind will wander to something else allowing you to be creative in different ways.
While walking is a great time to listen to music or podcasts, walking in silence (or in thought) is a way to cultivate that silent reflection time into your already busy day.
Do something truly creative and create for the sake of creating, not achievement
When was the last time you created something for the sake of your own enjoyment or fulfillment? Have you painted, danced, photographed, or written just for fun lately? Creating something with your body has been shown to increase the ability to more effectively manage conflict and make thoughts and feelings more clear (Ebersole & Hess, (1998)). It often is the case that as a creative, your passion and craft become the tool with which you earn money and in turn causes stress at times; when there is stress, it isn’t nearly as fun to enjoy the creation process.
Set aside time for “free play” craft hour. Creation without attachment to the end product will allow you to feel more at ease, allowing yourself to be exploratory and to be able to create without judgement.
Often, we start businesses for the purpose of utilizing our creative gifts; however, the same gift turns into a stressor. By having tools to manage the stress, to be able to reflect on a bigger scale the work we would like to be putting out into the world, we are able to be more effective and efficient.
My hope for you is that you can enjoy all the work you do. But it’s also necessary to do work just for you. I hope that you’ll take time to sit and reflect on your business and where you want it to go in the future.
There is potential in your business when you know where you are headed. What would you do with a few hours of free white space?